Entry-level rapid application development (RAD) tools have a deserved reputation for being low-grade, or robust and expensive, or free and missing key ingredients. At the same time, there is a pent-up demand for such tools from a host of folks -- beginner developers, students, small development shops, non-profits, startups, and so on.
Seeking to address that demand and to expand its customer base, leading tool shop Embarcadero Technologies has rolled out inexpensive starter editions of Delphi and C++ Builder, its popular RAD frameworks.
"The Delphi XE Starter and the C++ Builder XE Starter will make it easier for developers to create applications quickly and easily by using our powerful RAD frameworks," said David Intersimone, vice president of developer relations and chief evangelist for Embarcadero.
Delphi is based on Object Pascal, one of the most widely used programming languages and development environments in the world, said Intersimone.
Delphi is well-known for helping millions of users rapidly build native Windows desktop, database, multi-tier and touch applications, he said.
C++Builder and Delphi starter editions offer users core IDE components including a 32-bit native code compiler, debugger and visual component library (VCL) with drag-and-drop visual development to rapidly build Windows applications for Windows 7, Vista, XP and 2000.
The entry-level versions also offer hundreds of components for creating user interfaces, touch-enablement, grids, Office-style ribbon controls and other Windows controls; more than 120 Internet protocols and Internet standards; and IDE Insight, a very fast way to find and execute commands with one-click. Both versions are available in English, French, German and Japanese.
People who buy the new kits are allowed to have up to five licenses running simultaneously within their network. Users may sell any applications or components developed with these tools until the annual license or service revenue exceeds $1,000 or their micro organization exceeds $1,000 in revenue overall.
Once that commercial threshold is crossed, or whenever users want enhanced database connectivity or multi-tier development, users should upgrade their licenses to Delphi or C++Builder Professional, Enterprise or Architect editions.
RAD Tool Pricing and Availability
C++Builder and Delphi Starter editions are available now for $199 each. Users of older Turbo Edition products or any competing IDE or application development tool can upgrade to C++Builder or Delphi Starter for $149 each. Users with Starter edition licenses are entitled to a $100 discount on upgrades to higher editions.
There are some limitations to the kits but they are small ones, said Michael Rozlog, product manager for Delphi Solutions at Embarcadero.
"One of the things I’m more excited about is seeing how people react to some of the limitations such as Live Code Templates and no refactoring," said Rozlog. "If those things are important to you, then develop a plug-in to add functionality. Create better functionality in the upper levels of the product and start selling the new feature."
Rozlog said the starter kits offer the best of both words.
Developers get a limited but robust IDE for developing native Windows applications at a very reasonable price, he said.
Other limitations are: Delphi creates 32-bit native applications only; it cannot be used to write plug-ins for 64-bit third party applications and services such as Windows Explorer; and Delphi is not a cross-platform tool.
Delphi support for 64-bit applications has been planned for some years, but has been postponed several times. The x64 compiler preview (command-line only) is planned for the first half of 2011.
The latest Delphi release contains Delphi Prism which can be used to develop .NET applications.